Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Release: MOC2-38 Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image IDs: 566912743.6701 (P076-01) 567015491.6801 (P068-01) 567117391.6901 (P069-01) 567218289.7001 (P070-01) 567318308.7101 (P071-01) 567417432.7201 (P072-01) 567515469.7301 (P073-01)
CAPTIONThis is a mosaic of MOC wide angle images showing the the seasonal south polar ice cap as it appeared December 18-25, 1997. At this time, the southern hemisphere of Mars was in the middle of the spring season, and the seasonal frost cap had retreated to about 70°S-75°S latitude. The cap had been at its maximum extent during winter back in mid-July 1997, when it extended as far north as 45°S in some places. Winter ended and spring began at about the same time that Mars Global Surveyor went into orbit on September 12, 1997 (UTC). Summer in the southern hemisphere subsequently started around February 8, 1998.
Note that along the edges of the frost cap in this December 1997 picture, there are some bright, circular patches-- these are craters that have ice, frost, and/or fog from sublimating H2O and CO2 within them.
The bright "peninsula" of frost/ice located around 70°S, 320°W (upper right corner) is a feature that has been seen from Earth for centuries (using ground-based telescopes). It used to be called "The Mountains of Mitchel" and was thought for many years to be a snow-capped mountain range. Pictures from the Mariner 6 and 7 missions in 1969 revealed that this region is not mountainous but cratered, with slopes of the craters preserving the frost.
This mosaic of MOC images from Orbits 67 through 73 was featured as Figure 7a in Malin et al., "Early Views of the Martian Surface from the Mars Orbiter Camera of Mars Global Surveyor," Science, v. 279, no. 5357, pp. 1681-1685.
Malin Space Science Systems and the California Institute of Technology built the MOC using spare hardware from the Mars Observer mission. MSSS operates the camera from its facilities in San Diego, CA. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Mars Surveyor Operations Project operates the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft with its industrial partner, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, from facilities in Pasadena, CA and Denver, CO.
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